October 24, 2011

POLO | Amid Early Season Adjustments, Red Falls to UVA

Print More

Both the men’s and women’s polo teams were left in the dust by UVA over the weekend. The men’s team finished fell to the Cavaliers, 17-10, in a rematch of last year’s national championship game, which the Red lost at home. On the women’s side, Cornell was unable to repeat its success against Virigina from a season ago, losing, 19-9. Despite the disappointment, head coach David Eldredge was pleased with his squad’s performance against what he considers a “very well schooled” UVA program.The Red knew that facing the Cavaliers would be tough, however, the results were still not exactly what the team anticipated. The men were able to take an early lead and won the first chukker, holding off UVA until the third chukker, which ended in a tie. By the fourth chukker, the Cavaliers secured the lead and would not look back. “It turned out better than I expected,” said junior captain Branden Van Loon. “It’ll actually put us in a better position for UConn this coming weekend.” The women’s team did not have as positive an experience in its match against Virginia.“It went a little bit worse than we thought it was going to,” said senior captain Ali Hoffman. “We were not playing as well as we have in practice and in previous games.”Eldredge echoed this sentiment.“They did not come out and play as we had been practicing,” he added.Despite the women’s squad’s early struggles, the team was able to improve throughout the match, and ultimately played to its capability by the fourth and final chukker, according to Eldredge.“That is something I’m hoping to take and build on,” the head coach said.This early in the season, the Red still faces some challenges of its own in its search to become a top competitor. “We really haven’t had that much time as a team playing together,” Hoffman said of the women’s team. Aside from minimal pratice time, the women have another situation to address — they are still searching for this season’s third starter. Last weekend, one of the contenders, sophomore Madeline Olberg, had the opportunity to travel to Charlottesville, Va. and compete with the squad. Both Hoffman and Eldredge were pleased with how the rookie stepped up to the plate.“She played particularly well and it was her first time traveling to a different arena and playing there,” Hoffman said. The men’s team has also been rotating its players through the early season.“We’re still trying to find the right mix … the right chemistry for the men’s team,” Eldredge said.According to Van Loon, the men’s goal for the UVA game was “to get the newer players familiar with that level of play.” Playing on the opponent’s home turf posed a particular challenge to the newcomers, but they seemed to take it in stride.“The new players really adapted well to playing in a much larger arena,” Van Loon said. The Cavaliers’ large arena forced the players to change their style of play, according to Van Loon, who added that the more space the squads have, the faster the players are able to ride. “Playing against them necessitated communication among the three players that were on the field,” Van Loon said.Although Cornell still has a lot to work on, the team views its UVA matches as an important learning experience. “Even though we lost it was definitely a positive outcome and a positive experience,” Van Loon said.

Original Author: Ariel Cooper